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Vladimir Krupitsky: Quick Recovery

Vladimir Krupitzky speaks with a Medicaid customer at work almost four years after his stent.

By Michael Lasalandra
BIDMC Correspondent

When Vladimir Krupitsky came into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with chest pains four years ago, it was quickly determined that he had a serious  coronary artery blockage that had to be dealt with right away.

"He had concerning, unstable symptoms and a markedly abnormal EKG," said Dr. Eli Gelfand, a cardiologist who heads up the Russian Cardiovascular Clinic at BIDMC's CardioVascular Institute (CVI).

The blockage was in Mr. Krupitsky's left main coronary artery, which provides about two thirds of the blood flow to the heart, and the usual treatment -- particularly at that time -- was to perform urgent coronary artery bypass surgery.

Mr. Krupitsky, now 68, was very apprehensive about having surgery. Fortunately, he had come to a place where there was another option -- stenting the artery, a minimally invasive procedure usually reserved for blocked arteries that are not as critical as the left main coronary artery.

"We had a meeting with a heart surgeon and an interventional cardiologist and discussed his options," said Dr. Gelfand, who, like Mr. Krupitsky, was born in Russia and communicates with his patients in Russian. "We took into account the cultural situation and Mr. Krupitsky's primary desire for the speediest recovery possible."

Dr. Gelfand referred Mr. Krupitsky to Dr. David Leeman, an interventional cardiologist at the CVI, who is experienced in stenting the left main coronary artery.

"You really want someone with good hands, a lot of experience and impeccable judgement in the catheterization lab," Dr. Gelfand said. "There is no margin for error in these cases."

Dr. Leeman said that stenting the left main is being done more frequently now, but several years ago it was fairly uncommon.

"This narrowing was in such a critical area," he said. "So much of the blood flow to the heart goes through this left main area. You have to be a bit more careful. It was usually felt that the patient should have bypass surgery, but we're gaining more and more experience with stenting the left main coronary artery. "

The "before" photo (left) shows a blockage in Mr. Krupitsky's left main coronary artery at 11 a.m. on July 6, 2006. The "after" photo (rights) shows the same artery the same day at 8 p.m. after stenting.

Mr. Krupitsky was sent home the next day. As part of his recovery, he went to an institute that helped him understand the connection between mind and body. Yoga, meditation and dietary changes helped him lose 14 pounds and reduce the stress in his life. He has had no problems since the procedure was done on July 6, 2006.

"I consider that day my second birthday," said Mr. Krupitsky, who lives in Brighton and works as a customer service representative for MassHealth. "I felt like a cosmonaut. I was out of this world. I can't describe how I felt. I went home the next day and was back to work five days later."

Mr. Krupitsky said he appreciated being offered the choice between open-heart surgery and getting a stent, which is implanted via a catheter snaked through a blood vessel in the groin area up and into the heart. The stent is a wire mesh tube that helps keep the narrowed artery open.

"They told me they usually do a bypass, but that it was my choice," he said. "The only thing was that they needed a decision quickly because the blockage was so strong. So I told Dr. Leeman to go ahead. He saved my life. I was very lucky that I had it done here at Beth Israel Deaconess. It is a great example of how medicine should take care of people."

Posted April 2010

Contact Information

General Heart Care Services
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-8800

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